Making Some Homemade Redscale Film with Harman Phoenix

Making Some Homemade Redscale Film with Harman Phoenix 

One of the things I've really wanted to try is making my own redscale film. I've used Lomography Redscale film before, which has been fun, but for a long time I've always wanted to try making my own redscale film. But what is redscale, you might ask? Put simply, instead of taking photographs with the emulsion side of the film facing the subject, the film is reversed in the camera so that the image is taken through the backing layer.

Colour film is made up of three layers, each light-sensitive to a particular wavelength of colour: red, green and blue. The red layer is usually exposed to light after the blue and green layers, but with redscale film, where the light passes backwards through the film, what this means is that before it reaches the sensitive emulsion layers, light passes through the support layer and the red-sensitive layer first, leading to images with a strong red cast.

Although one can purchase ready made redscale film, I've always wanted to try it myself. I bought some ISO 400 Lomography colour negative film ages ago, but the 35mm cassettes I bought were a little too cheap, and all of the light tight felt was peeling off. Then I got into a conversation with Joe (@owlinwolf on Mastodon) about Cinestill Redrum, a limited edition redscale film, who observed, 'Which makes me wonder if Harman Pheonix might be an interesting one to rescale.'

This got me thinking, and reignited my interest in making my own redscale film, but this time with Harman Phoenix film. 'Interesting idea regarding rescaling Phoenix', I replied, 'I've been thinking about doing some Redscale for the #ShittyCameraChallenge and was looking for a contender. I just happen to have a roll of Phoenix knocking around.' But I was still short of some decent empty 35mm cassettes, so I put in an order for some empty cassettes and a couple of extra rolls of Harman Phoenix film.

Actually preparing the film for redscale exposure is quite simple. All you need is a roll of colour film, an empty 35mm cassette, scissors, and tape. First of all cut off the end of the film to make a smooth edge. You can then either tape the film to a piece of film protruding from a pre-used 35mm cassette or, as in my case, cut a tab in the end of the film to fit it into the spool of the empty 35mm cassette. when the end of the film is slotted into the spool, make sure this is secure so that it doesn't come out when you are winding on the film. Also, make sure that the orientation on the film is revered to what it normally would be, so that when you wind the film onto the spool the emulsion is facing outwards.

Once the two cassettes are linked together you now need to go into a darkroom or use a dark bag. Then all you do is rewind the film from the full cassette to the empty cassette. Once you have reached the end of the film you can take the cassettes out of the dark bag or bring them back into the light to separate the two cassettes. Now cut a tab in the film so that you can load it into the camera. In my case this funny looking tab is because I will be using it with my Lomo Smena 8M and as this did not come with a take up spool I am using one from another old reusable 35mm cassette.

Now that the homemade redscale film is finished it's time to load it into the camera and use it. Because I will be exposing through the support of the film the emulsion will receive less light than if it was loaded normally. I have learned that you should add about an extra two stops exposure to get an equivalent exposure for a film rated at it's box speed. Hence for the ISO 200 Harman Phoenix film I will be exposing the redscaled film at ISO 50. Making my first redscale film was really encouraging and I would like to do it again already, although I should expose this film first. However, next time I'm going to try the EBS technique, Expose Both Sides. That should be fun.

If you are on Mastodon, you can now follow this blog directly. Just go to Mastodon and follow the ‘Snapshot’ WordPress account at All new posts will be automatically updated to your timeline.

#Redscale, #RedscaleFilm #Harman, #Phoenix, #RedscalePhotography, #Experimental, #AltProcess,